It’s something my wife and I have done consistently during our 11 years together as a couple.  It’s helped us make some of our biggest decisions.  It’s the way we’ve gotten to know each other (and ourselves) on a much deeper level.

Can you guess what we consider to be one of the single most supportive things we’ve done for our relationship and happiness?

We walk together in nature and have great conversations.

Walking amongst the trees, hearing the sounds of birds, and feeling the gentle breeze of the fresh air in parks, forests, beaches, mountains, and other beautiful places has nurtured and inspired us.  If we’re feeling tired, frustrated, stuck, or we’re just trying to figure something out, we’ll throw on our shoes and head out the door.   It’s no accident that we live only a few blocks from the nation’s largest urban forest in Portland, Oregon.

If we’re looking for inspiration and creativity around some project, we head out for a long walk and bring a little notebook and pen to write down the brilliant ideas that will inevitably appear as we relax, move, and saturate our brains with oxygen.

We’ve been at this for so long we can’t live without it!   When we head off to a conference in the middle of a big city, and we’re stuck under florescent lights breathing recycled air for a few days, we begin to wither like plants without sunshine!

Research has shown that looking at greenery and hearing nature sounds for relatively short periods of time actually improves immunity, neurological function, and mood.  It also restores the mind from mental fatigue and reduces levels of cortisol, a stress hormone.  Nature calms and heals both mind and body.

If you’re feeling frustrated, mentally fatigued and burned out, then get outside!   If you need to have a difficult conversation with a loved one, why not let the power of nature soften some of the tension and allow everyone to feel a little more receptive and open to dialogue?

And, of course, if you need healing, inspiration, and pleasure…go for a walk in the woods.  The more you do it the better it gets!

Where is your favorite place to walk outside?